Spencer Finch
press release 

see Spencer Finch in the artists section

Current Exhibition Stockholm


Spencer Finch, "The eye you see is not an eye because you see it, it is an eye because it sees you"

Berlin, April 28th - June 24th, 2017
Image No. 1 of Spencer 	Finch

Bauhaus Light (Kandinsky’s Studio/ Klee’s Studio, afternoon effect), 2017, 22 fluorescent lights, fixtures, filters, dimensions variable, unique

Spencer Finch presents an exhibition with new watercolours, drawings, photographs, installations and a large light installation, that allow deeper insight into his comprehensive and witty exploration of light, colour and perception over the last 20 years.

The most elusive and ineffable experiences inform the work of Spencer Finch. To see the light that others have seen before him, he has travelled to culturally significant places like the cave of Lascaux, famous for its Neolithic cave paintings, to watch the same sunset, the prehistoric artists must have witnessed. He has studied the grey ceiling over Sigmund Freud’s couch and observed the light in Hisarlik, believed to the location of ancient Troy, at dawn. With both an interest in scientific research and a true poetic sensibility Finch dedicates himself to capturing these phenomena. His works, however, always reflect the impossibility of arriving at a single truth about his subjects and reinforce the ephemeral beauty and aura of the observed world.

“Pollen”, the installation on view, pairs diverse works on paper and photographs as fragments of a whole. The title references the 1798 collection of poems “Blüthenstaub” by poet and philosopher Novalis, who developed the fragment as a literary form and strived to unite science and poetry in his work. Unfolding a kaleidoscope of heterogeneous observations, scientific and mathematical ideas and questions, the studies in the installation range from the problem of squaring the square to the visualisation of the smell of spring, the light of a star Caph when the artist was born, the colour of a dream, the representation of light reflections, the mapping of a shadow, as well as a meticulous drawing of the artist’s own iris. As expressed in the exhibition title—a quote from poet Antonio Machado—the subjectivity of perception is fundamental for Finch’s approach. Indeed “Pollen” thrives on the inextricable tension between scientific observation, subjectivity of vision, and lived experience.

Finch’s second installation can be seen as a rather unexpected interpretation of “Remarks on Colour”, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notes and fragments on the problems of colour and language. Wittgenstein’s so-called riddles of colour, such as “reddish-green” or “transparent white” are visualized quite concretely in Finch’s installation of living plants in corresponding colours.

For the fluorescent light installation filling the whole second room of the gallery, the artist has visited the studios of such disparate artists as Kandinsky and Klee at Bauhaus in Dessau. He determined the colour and intensity of the specific afternoon light in their studios located side-by-side in the same Master’s House. In Finch’s installation, distinct rhythmic bands of coloured filters shift the light of the fluorescents and recreate the exact light in which the artists worked.
The artist concentrates on his own studio in the seemingly abstract photo series “Sunlight in a Room”. The photos in the series draw a subtle image of the visual complexity created by the sunlight falling into the empty studio, allowing us to experience a presumably ordinary thing as a multifaceted poetic event that remains in the end unfathomable.


On April 29 Spencer Finch and Daniel Birnbaum, Director of the Moderna Museet Stockholm, held a talk in the gallery. Watch online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SahWmG20TxA.


Spencer Finch was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1962, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He has participated in the Folkestone Triennial, UK (2011), the 53rd Venice Biennial (2009), the Turin Triennial (2008) and the Whitney Biennial (2004). A survey exhibition titled “What Time Is It on the Sun?” was on view at MASS MoCA, North Adams in 2007/2008. His long-term installation “Cosmic Latte” will be on view at the museum beginning in May. His recent solo exhibitions include: The Morgan Library and Museum New York; Montclair Art Museum; Turner Contemporary, Margate (2014), Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana (both 2013), Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence (2012), The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst MA (all 2011); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC and FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou (both 2010). Recent public commissions include: “A Cloud Index”, Crossrail Paddington Station London (opens in 2018); “The Western Mystery“, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Art Museum; “Lost Man Creek”, MetroTech Commons, New York (both 2017); “Newton’s Theory of Color and Music (Goldberg Variations),” Steinway, New York (2016); “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning“, the only work of art commissioned for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum (2014); the glass facade design for the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore (2012)   and “The River that Flows Both Ways,” High Line Park, New York (2009). This is Spencer Finch’s sixth solo exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake.

Image No. 2 of Spencer Finch

Bauhaus Light (Kandinsky’s Studio/ Klee’s Studio, afternoon effect), 2017, detail

Image No. 3 of Spencer Finch

Installation view

Image No. 4 of Spencer Finch

Pollen, 2017, watercolour, pencil, colour pencil, ink, marker, soft pastel, gouache on paper, and archival inkjet prints, overall dimensions installed 151 x 361 cm

Image No. 5 of Spencer Finch

Pollen, 2017, detail (Shield of Archilles)

All the colours in the artist‘s paint box mixing in the centre. Inspired by Homer‘s and W.H. Auden‘s description of the richly decorated shield of Achilles.

Image No. 6 of Spencer Finch

Pollen, 2017, detail (Squared Square)

Retracing the complex mathematical problem of squaring a square. The order of the squares from 1-21 corresponds to the alphabetical order of the names of the 21 different water colours.

Image No. 7 of Spencer Finch

Pollen, 2017, detail (Bee Zinnia)

Matching the exact colour of the petals of different zinnias visited by bees on their path to collect pollen.

Image No. 8 of Spencer Finch

Fog (Lake Wononscopomac), 2017, soft pastel on paper, 126.7 x 168.5 cm

Image No. 9 of Spencer Finch

Installation view

Image No. 10 of Spencer Finch

Sunlight in a Room, 2017, 11 archival inkjet prints, 8 photographs 35 x 26.6 cm each, and 3 photographs 26.6 x 35 cm each, 1 of 3 + 1 AP

Image No. 11 of Spencer Finch

Sunlight in a Room, 2017, detail 1

Image No. 12 of Spencer Finch

Sunlight in a Room, 2017, detail 3

Image No. 13 of Spencer Finch

Sunlight in a Room, 2017, detail 11

Image No. 14 of Spencer Finch

Remarks on Colour, 2017, 41 Plants in Viennese soil, terracotta pots, dimensions variable

"Sow a seed in my soil and it will grow differently than it would in any other soil.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)


Image No. 15 of Spencer Finch

Remarks on Colour, 2017, detail

“If we were to think of […] a reddish green […], we would have the same feeling as in the case of southwesterly northwind.” (Wittgenstein, Remarks on Colour, III-94)

Image No. 16 of Spencer Finch

Remarks on Colour, 2017, detail

“Imagine that all mankind, with rare exceptions, were red-green colour-blind […].” (Wittgenstein, Remarks on Colour, I-12)

Image No. 17 of Spencer Finch

Remarks on Colour, 2017, detail

“[…] we may call lilac a reddish-whitish-blue […]” (I-72)

Image No. 18 of Spencer Finch

Remarks on Colour, 2017

Image No. 19 of Spencer Finch

Bauhaus Light (Kandinsky’s Studio/ Klee’s Studio, afternoon effect), 2017

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